Multidimensional Genome-wide Analyses Show Accurate FVIII Integration by ZFN in Primary Human Cells


Jaichandran Sivalingam, Dimitar Kenanov, Hao Han, Ajit Johnson Nirmal, Wai Har Ng, Sze Sing Lee, Jeyakumar Masilamani, Toan Thang Phan, Sebastian Maurer-Stroh, and Oi Lian Kon. 2016. “Multidimensional Genome-wide Analyses Show Accurate FVIII Integration by ZFN in Primary Human Cells.” Mol Ther, 24, 3, Pp. 607-19.


Costly coagulation factor VIII (FVIII) replacement therapy is a barrier to optimal clinical management of hemophilia A. Therapy using FVIII-secreting autologous primary cells is potentially efficacious and more affordable. Zinc finger nucleases (ZFN) mediate transgene integration into the AAVS1 locus but comprehensive evaluation of off-target genome effects is currently lacking. In light of serious adverse effects in clinical trials which employed genome-integrating viral vectors, this study evaluated potential genotoxicity of ZFN-mediated transgenesis using different techniques. We employed deep sequencing of predicted off-target sites, copy number analysis, whole-genome sequencing, and RNA-seq in primary human umbilical cord-lining epithelial cells (CLECs) with AAVS1 ZFN-mediated FVIII transgene integration. We combined molecular features to enhance the accuracy and activity of ZFN-mediated transgenesis. Our data showed a low frequency of ZFN-associated indels, no detectable off-target transgene integrations or chromosomal rearrangements. ZFN-modified CLECs had very few dysregulated transcripts and no evidence of activated oncogenic pathways. We also showed AAVS1 ZFN activity and durable FVIII transgene secretion in primary human dermal fibroblasts, bone marrow- and adipose tissue-derived stromal cells. Our study suggests that, with close attention to the molecular design of genome-modifying constructs, AAVS1 ZFN-mediated FVIII integration in several primary human cell types may be safe and efficacious.